February 29, 2016

Help and Hope for Moms (A Review of Loving My Children)

I sometimes struggle to know how to love my children. The outing which I thought would bring smiles to their faces ends in tears and sibling bickering. The meal which I carefully planned for a Friday night treat turns out to be something their mercurial taste-buds suddenly dislike. And, with three unique children, even things that appeal to one child miss the mark with the others.

More than I would care to admit, I find myself blinking back tears in the kitchen, wondering if my efforts will ever demonstrate love to my children.

In those times, what I need is not another "fun activities for kids" Pinterest-search, but a reminder of what love really is. And, as Katie Faris clearly states in the first pages of her new book, Loving My Children: "The best way that we can love our children is by passing on the Gospel to them." (p. 21-22) 

I first met Katie Faris when we were students together at Grove City College. Even as a teenager, she had a sincere love for the Lord and a desire to see her sisters in Christ grow in spiritual maturity. Now, Faris is the mother of four, and the same tenderness that I once saw in her for the freshman women of North Hall is in every sentence of her book--this time for her children. 

After affirming the centrality of the Gospel to our parenting efforts, Faris lays out three important ways to do this: directly instructing our children in the truth of the Gospel, cultivating a love for the Gospel in our own hearts, and praying for our children. (p. 23) Whether or not my popcorn-and-a-jigsaw puzzle family night is a rousing success, I have an opportunity to love my children through the good news of Christ died for sinners.

In the course of her warm and well-written book, Faris explains the importance of a Gospel-centered marriage, and exhorts her readers to see their children as the blessing the Bible says they are. (Three of Faris's children have a rare genetic disease, and she does not speak lightly of the sacrifice children require and the temptation to consider them "burdens.") 

Furthermore, Faris presses readers to confess and forsake their own sin--"What is the greatest hindrance to loving my children?" she writes. "I am." (p. 74)--and she equips them to deal wisely and graciously with their children's sin through discipline.

But perhaps my favorite chapter was the one Faris titled: "What Does Doctrine Have to Do with Being a Mom?" In it, she explains how trusting in God's sovereignty and providential care for mothers can bring contentment and joy--even in the most difficult days. Faris writes, "despite your very real weaknesses, God has a great and specific purpose for you being the mother of your children, and he will be faithful to his purpose and plan both for your life and the lives of any children with whom he blesses you." (p. 69)

And in the midst of competing messages about being a mom, Faris ultimately affirms that "Loving my children isn't about whether I breastfeed or bottle-feed. It's not about whether or not I let my daughter eat refined sugar before she's two, or she never gets to eat sugar at all. It's not even about whether I choose to homeschool, enroll my child in a public school or send him or her to a private school. These decisions and the convictions behind them are important, but they're not the Gospel." (p. 22)

That is something we would all do well to remember.
Faris, Katie. Loving My Children: Embracing Biblical Motherhood. (Riverton, NJ: Faris Press, 2015.) 129 pages.

1 comment:

  1. Will definitely have to add this to my reading list! Thanks for the recommendation.


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